So last summer, that I spent in France, I spent a month of that in Montpellier in the the south of France. Montpellier is Louisville’s sister city and they have an exchange between the cities that I have done twice now. So since I was there for a month I was able to visit many of their pastry shops and I actually ate macarons EVERY single day in Montpellier. I talked to the French people who are from Montpellier and staying in Louisville for a year and I talked to the people living in Montpellier while I was there and I think I actually might know their pastry shops better than they do! I did make it my goal though to eat at as many different ones as I could!
Lionel Hautbois was my favorite! The lady working their was amazing! I came back one time and said that their macarons were my favorite in Montpellier and she said “je crois que c’est normal” meaning I think that’s normal 😉 I loved her! Very nice too! Their macarons where very colorful and pretty and they had a lot of different flavors to choose from. Their macarons where also well made. In trying all the different pastry shops I ate MANY dried out, hard, hollow and crunchy macarons. Lionel Hautbois had very well made ones! Look at those flavors! I’ll try to remember as many as I can starting from the top left and going down in rows from left to right. Pineapple, orange flower, strawberry, raspberry, nutella x2, salted butter caramel, vanilla, (melon I am guessing), (not sure mango or lemon I am guessing), cinnamon, cassis, violet (my favorite was their violet ones!) and chocolate. I am surprised I didn’t get rose but I am guessing they were either out of rose or they didn’t sell it.
I of course also ate many of their pastries. They had this thing on a stick they told me was supposed to be eaten like a popsicle….impossible lol. Their is no way you could eat that thing like a popsicle. It was a cute idea though lol. But it was just comical the idea that I was supposed to eat it like a sucker. I would have ended up covered in it. I think this was a mousse chocolate with a layer of feuilletine at the bottom and the whole thing was covered in a chocolate shell. Looking at it again I bet they just used the popsicle stick to dip the mousse into the chocolate to cover it.
I also at this rather large raspberry macaron thing. I’m pretty sure that is pastry cream in the center. It was very light and crisp. Not dried out and crunchy like some of the large macaron pastries I tried. Also I like how many raspberries they sandwiched into the pastry! They did not skimp! It looks like they might have flavored the pastry cream with matcha (finely ground green tea). This seemed to be a big trend in France in the pastry shops. Also it looks like they caramelized some sugar on top of the macaron shell.
I’m not sure what it was but something about Lionel Hautbois struck a cord with me. Maybe it was because they ended up recognizing me and welcoming me back? Maybe it was because their pastries seemed to be creatively made and fun and interesting to eat. Also I tried many bizarrely flavored macarons. I don’t understand making a macaron taste bizarre simply for the sake of making it unique. Lionel Hautbois offered many different flavors but they all tasted good and satisfying as sweet treats! They didn’t make you wonder why you dared try such a weird flavor. One of the pastries that didn’t make it into a picture was the Kouign-Amann pastries I bought from Lionel Hautbois! They WERE INCREDIBLE! They were actually our favorite Kouign-Amanns we had in France (Ann and I, my travel buddy). They were essentially a SUPER buttery and sugary puffed bread pastry. A quick google search will show you what they look like. The Kouign-Amanns here were sooo buttery they actually squirted sugary butter out when you bit into them! The butter and sugar perfectly caramelized on the bread dough! Incredible! Soooooo delicious! I wanted to eat 100 of them!
The pastry above is their take one a Mont Blanc. This pastry is made from sweetened chestnut purée, chestnut mousse and usually placed on a meringue or pie type shell bottom. This one was on a sablé (it’s not really pie shell I guess, more like a cross between graham cracker crust and shortbread cookie). I prefer the sablé base to the meringue base because I like the extra bit of butteriness it adds! Who doesn’t love butter? A Mont Blanc is usually dusted with powdered sugar which makes the name make more sense. Mont Blanc means white mountain and is the highest mountain in the Alps. Usually the chestnut purée is piped in a long continuous strand from front to back but this ones looks almost like the chestnut purée was made into a crumble. See Lionel Hautbois likes to play 🙂
And lastly we have this…”thing” basically it was a chocolate bavarois (I think. I am not a chef! I am totally guessing based on my MEMORY of the taste and texture) that had been shaped into this form. It was dusted with some kind of chocolate powder and a little ganache was used to fill the top three cavities. Then decorated with sugar, a hazelnut and a piece of chocolate. In France lots of pastries come in the form of creams, mousses and other such thick liquids. In America I think we tend to stick mostly to cakes, brownies and other such solids. I guess think of these pastries like cream pies but minus the pie shells. They are a lot lighter but still very sweet and satisfying.
Alas Lionel Hautbois, I may never get to see you again! I really do treasure our time spend together and will ALWAYS remember how special you made me feel. But seriously, this place was amazing! I cannot recommend it enough! I actually ate more pastries here than what is shown I just sadly didn’t take pictures of every single one of them. If you are in the south of France near Montpellier, I definitely think this is one of the MUST visit pastry shops! They also sell chocolates, candy and other goodies! All things sweet!